Every year about 18,000 new species are added to the annals of the earth’s biodiversity. To date, scientists have described and named about 2 million species on planet earth. Unbelievably, these same scientists believe there are no less than 10 million more species that remain unknown and unnamed.
Sadly, however, some are going extinct before even being discovered. Others such as the adorable bug-eyed tarsier, known as the Siau Island Tarsier, were first described and put on “a critically endangered list” the same year. Others, such the Cryptic Forest Falcon, are doing just fine with or without human acknowledgement.
This list showcases just ten of the newest species to western science, but I hope your world will be a richer place today knowing that these extraordinary creatures exist.
SpongeBob Square Pants Fungus
Yes, this is for real – this newly discovered tropical fungus, Spongiforma squarepanstii, is named after the sophomoric cartoon character, SpongeBob Square Pants. Why? Squarepanstii, which is found in Borneo on the rainforest floor, has spongelike qualities – and it smells like pineapple. And don’t we all know that Spongebob Square Pants lives in a pineapple at the bottom of the sea (well, I didn’t, but now I do)?
When the name squarepanstii was proposed, the editors of the journal, Mycologia rejected it for being “too frivolous.” But Dr. Desjardin, co-discoverer of the new fungi, didn’t back down: “We insisted that although the science might be their business, we could name it whatever we liked. We need a little frivolity in this stodgy old science we love.”
Bubblicious Pink Millipede
With it’s shockingly bright pink color, you would think someone would have discovered this critter way before 2006, but no, this multi-legged creepy-crawly stayed a secret to humans until just a handful of years ago. Found in Thailand, this dragon millipede is the largest of its genus and brazenly active during the day, as its bright color and almond-like smell (cyanide) warn would-be predators that it is foul-tasting and harmful. Many species of millipede also produce cyanide as a defense chemical and some are red, but Desmoxytes purpurosea is the only millipede that comes in the hue of Bubblicious Bubblegum.
Cryptic Forest Falcon
Sometimes new species are heard first rather than seen, as is the case with this stunning forest falcon found in Myanmar. Micrastur mintoni, called out one day in 2002 and unlike all other days, a ornithologist with highly attuned ears realized this was a bird he had never heard before. It turned out that actually it had been seen before, but because it looked so similar to another falcon, M. givicollis, that it had been misidentified as being the same species until 2002. Ornithologists can be forgiven for the mistake as the only difference in the two birds’ appearances was a single white tail band in addition to a subtle white-tipped tail. The other difference of course, was the distinctive call.
Siau Island Tarsier
In the 21 century it is very rare to discover a new primate species, but indeed that is what happened on the tiny remote South East Asian island of Siau in 2002, when Tarsius tumpara was finally caught by scientists. This adorable bug-eyed tarsier is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but do watch-out as this little primate is completely carnivorous!
The island of Siau is dominated by Mount Karengetang, a highly active and dangerous volcano, that if it blows big-time could wipe-out this species which is found no where else in the world. Upon discovery, the Siau Island Tarsier was added to the list of “The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates” by the IUCN.
Denise’s Pygmy Seahorse
The master of disguise, this pygmy seahorse eluded scientific detection until 2003, when an underwater photographer named Denise Tackett brought it to the attention of two marine biologists. This hiccup of a seahorse can mimic the color and texture of gorgonian coral (where it primarily hides-out) and with its diminutive size (about 1/2 an inch) it is amazing it was found at all. There are eight other pygmy seahorses and they all escaped scientific detection until 1969 when the first one was described.
Next page: Glass Frogs, a Deadly Jelly, a Spiny Pig, an Ant and an Orchid
Read more: Environment, Feline Muse, Fun, Inspiration, Life, Nature, Nature & Wildlife, Pets, Spirit, Travel, Wildlife, 10 amazing new species, Andean cloud forest orchids, ant named after Google, biodiversity, Cherise Udell, Coendou roosmalenorum, cryptic forest falcon, Denise Tackett, Denise's Pygmy Seahorse, Desmoxytes purpurosea, Ecuador biodiversity, Feline Muse Cherise Udell, Google Ant, King's Deadly Jelly, Lou Jost, Lou Jost orchids, Mache Mountain Glass Frog, Malo kingi, new glass frog species, new species, newly discovered species, orchid hunter, pink millipede, Roosmalen's Hairy Dwarf Porcupine, Siau Island Tarsier, SpongeBob Square Pants Fungus, Teagueia cherisei orchid, Teagueia orchids, The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates